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Brian Tolleson 94C at BARK BARK headquarters in Atlanta

BARK BARK for AMC and Microsoft

With a daily To Do list of making video magic for zombies and laundry detergent, packaged goods and Ziploc® bags, design celebrities and Hollywood blockbusters and so much more, BARK BARK Productions tackles and creates global brand integration campaigns. Emmy Award-nominated founding partner Brian Tolleson 94C describes his “deeper and smarter” concept. “Advertising shouldn’t be an interruptive message,” Tolleson explains. “We integrate product branding, helping our clients work together with television shows to create associated consumer affiliations for their brands.” He cites as examples the brand integration of HGTV Home’s David Bromstad and Sherwin-Williams paint, or Bravo’s Real Housewives and Titanic in 3D. “For the consumer, we create a natural connection between the two entities.”

Tolleson has designed a unique business model for his globally-recognized company. “We built BARK BARK to help advertisers reach consumers where content lives – commercials should enhance people’s lives and authentically communicate to the audience you’re speaking to. And the best way to do that is through the content they are already watching, already consuming, and already enjoying.” BARK BARK “knows how to get alongside the content and help you be a part of it. That’s what brand integration is all about, and that’s what we do.”

Going so far as to occasionally pre-visualize the production process in 3D for clients, the creative team at BARK BARK tackles everything from brainstorming concepts, to set and costume design, to scripting and casting, to innovative film and audio techniques, to post-production editing. From their creative headquarters suite in Atlanta and offices in New York City and Los Angeles, BARK BARK channels ideas into finished products that help advertisers more authentically and seamlessly reach the television audience.

At Emory College, Tolleson initially pursued a pre-med curriculum, but soon realized his interests lay elsewhere. He focused on creative writing and between his junior and senior years, interned at the Television Academy in Los Angeles. After graduation, he packed his bags for California without a job. His parents supported the move though didn’t fully understand the tenuous circumstances of his employment. “I told them I had a job, when in fact I’d given myself a small window to find one.”

Through “sheer determination and hounding the human resources personnel” he landed the job of his dreams at Creative Artists Agency as an assistant to a major motion picture agent. In short order, Tolleson’s career vaulted through feature film development and story editing production roles for Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Entertainment feature films such as Girl, InterruptedGladiatorSpy Game, Bewitched, and Stuart Little. Tolleson then ran Naked Eye Films, a branding and production company in Atlanta with pedigreed clientele.

Launched into creative and executive producer roles for MTV Networks in New York City, Tolleson put his talents to good use in creating over 100 hours of television for Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., CBS, and others. His creative pitch and strategic brand creation “resulted in the greenlight and launch of Logo, the first ever 24-7-365 channel for LGBT Americans,” he explains.

Career advice for creatives

“In the first phase of my career, I specialized in movies,” he recalls, pointing out that the film-to-television career shift was difficult. When he purposefully accepted a production position with Turner Pictures in Atlanta, “I took a step back to reinvent my career. Now it’s easier for producers to work in both mediums.”

Praising the foundation of a strong Emory liberal arts education, Tolleson looks back on his own professional journey. “I think you sometimes have to do the wrong thing before you get it right.” When choosing professional assignments to build experience, he recommends, “Just keep in mind it’s about tailoring a career over time rather than making a single choice.”

–Michelle Valigursky

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